Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hammers and Chisels

Animation. The clue has to be in the name, something vibrant, moving, exciting and alive.

Surely these words describe what all modern day educators believe is best for a classroom. Gone are days of rows and rote learning facts.

I asked my daughter of 11 yesterday; 'So when was Queen Victoria made Queen?' she replied; 'Im not sure..' I said; 'Hey, you should know that!'
She looked over at me as though looking at a Victorian. 'Dad, I don't need to know that stuff, ever heard of Google?.. duh"

So we animate our lessons, teaching with graphics, colour, group tasks, essential questions, problem solving and enquiry learning strategies. The kids love it!

However, we as teachers are always looking for new tools for our trade and, for us in a 1:1 iPad environment, more and more we know what the materials are at the start of a lesson, the learning goals, essential questions and targets but we don't know what kind of a house the children are going to build!

And that is how it should be.

So many outcomes are valid, meaningful as ways of demonstrating learning that the whole world of education can become an animated and stimulating experience where children are given the chance to determine the outcome task for a piece of learning;

'I'll do a MoodBoard,'
'I'm doing a cartoon'
'I think I'm going to produce a document' and so on and so on...

This brave, new, exciting world needs new rules, new boundaries and new tools. One of these tools is in animation packages. They enable children to demonstrate learning in languages, social subjects, maths, sciences and almost every other area by creating animations that show what they've learned. Since the advent of iPad we've been searching for tools that do this job properly, and easily. Along came 'Toontastic', a fantastic little app that includes vital learning of the story arc and opens a world of possibilities to younger animators.
This week I chanced upon another little gem. How I have not noticed it before during fruitless searches of the App store I have no idea. 'PhotoPuppetHD'.

A beautiful, comprehensive animation toolbox for older children, allowing creation of characters, backgrounds, talking heads and lovely track-by-track editing. I introduced it today to a class for the first time and was struck by the same feeling I had when first demonstrating GarageBand (what higher compliment could any app get!) that the sky now really was the limit!

So, another tool for the 21st century teacher's toolbox. I think this one's a sledgehammer!


  1. I wish I had older students so I could really see what the kids could do with PhotoPuppet! I got that same GarageBand feeling - ooh, layers!!

  2. Yeah, I remember that feeling so well! I don't think you actually need 1:1 to make PhotoPuppet a hit in your class. Even if you have a smaller number of iPads and the children work on projects in pairs or small groups? It might even be a better way of going about it!